Gavizon's Supreme Court candidacy in the balance

The outcome of Ruth Gavizon's candidacy to be appointed to the Supreme Court may be determined this week by the election of two representatives of the Israel Bar to the Judges' Selection Committee. On Tuesday, the 48 members of the Bar's National Council will hold a secret vote to choose among four candidates running for the positions. They are incumbent Yori Guy-Ron, Rachel Ben-Ari, former justice and finance minister Ya'acov Ne'eman and Tel Aviv attorney Pinhas Marinsky. Guy-Ron and Ben-Ari belong to a faction headed by Israel Bar chairman Shlomo Cohen, while Ne'eman and Marinsky belong to a faction headed by Jerusalem lawyer Yoram Festinger. Guy-Ron and Ben-Ari oppose Gavizon's appointment, while Ne'eman and Festinger support her. Among the other seven members of the Judges' Selection Committee, the three Supreme Court justices and Labor MK Avraham Shochat oppose Gavizon. Committee chairman Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Health Minister Dan Naveh and NRP MK Shaul Yahalom support her. Both of the outgoing Israel Bar representatives, one of whom was Guy-Ron, also opposed Gavizon. Because Livni was in the minority on this matter, she refused to convene the Judges' Selection Committee for 11 months, even though there have been two vacancies on the Supreme Court for almost a year. However, with elections approaching and pressure mounting on her to fill the vacancies, Livni scheduled a committee meeting in January to appoint at least two new justices. The only hope she has of engineering Gavizon's appointment is if both new Israel Bar representatives support her. In a related development, Binyamin Levinbok, one of the outgoing Israel Bar representatives to the Judges' Selection Committee, died on Sunday at the age of 70. Levinbok established his own law firm in 1984 and it was prominent in banking affairs.